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Study: Tablets With 3G/4G Subscriptions On The Rise

Boston — Tablets equipped with 3G and 4G cellular broadband are growing by leaps and bounds, Strategy Analytics said.

Tablets in use with mobile broadband subscriptions will grow more than five times in the next five years to reach almost 250 million in 2018 at a global level, the research and consulting company said.

In the U.S., 50 million tablet subscriptions will be added in the next five years, with Verizon Wireless, Sprint and AT&T combined having added almost 1.5 million tablet subscriptions in the first quarter of this year.

In markets such as the U.S. with high wireless penetration rates, “operators are driving tablet connections through use of shared data plans and add-on plans to encourage their existing phone user base to add a tablet to their account,” said Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, director of Wireless Operator Strategies.

In emerging markets, said Phil Kendall, executive director of Wireless Operator Strategies, “operators are seeing some success using their own-branded tablets to drive up the total addressable market for 3G/4G tablets.” Overseas markets are also “seeing more ‘comes with data’ models where device purchase includes a free monthly data allowance, such as HP’s DataPass,” he noted.

Strategy Analytics forecasts global tablet subscriptions will hit 247 million by 2018, up from 45 million in 2013. It also found that the attachment rate of subscriptions to 3G/4G-equipped tablets was only 45percent in 2013. As a result, only 10 percent of all tablets in use had a direct mobile broadband connection, excluding Wi-Fi tethering to a smartphone or mobile hot spot.

 The company also forecast that LTE will account for 92.4 percent of all tablet subscriptions by the end of 2018, overtaking 3G. Also, tablets will contribute $26 billion to operator service revenues globally and generate more than 5 million terabytes of mobile data traffic in 2018.